Wanted: Models of Consent Form for Family Oral History

Karen Reeds Discussion

My family is engaged in our own informal oral history project -- one of us (not me) interviewing our two oldest members every weekend by phone/Skype. Although the elders doubt their stories would interest anyone outside the family, I'm very conscious that historians might find some of the material fascinating.

Because I raised the issue of an "advanced directive" for the interviews, I've been delegated to find models of consent forms that would let our elders decide how these interviews get used and preserved. (I can think of at least two suitable institutions with existing oral history collections.) 

Any other legal/ethical issues we should be talking about? 

Feel free to post replies on H-Oralhist or write to me off-list.

Thanks very much,

Karen Reeds, PhD, Project Director
New Jersey Medical School: The First Half-Century
An Oral History Project
Princeton Research Forum, a community of independent scholars

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Dear Karen,

Several of us in the UK Oral History Society have been thinking about how to encourage family historians to maintain best practice when they use oral history as one of their research methods.  We have put together our thoughts in a "tips for family historians" page on the OHS website: www.ohs.org.uk/family-historians.php

This webpage includes a link to a form we have called "joint statement of intent for family oral history recordings," which we designed for cases when the recording might not be destined (at least in the short term) for an archival repository.  We wanted to create a form in which all parties could be clear about their rights in a recording and also give all participants a chance to specify their wishes about how the recording could be used.  However, if the recordings in your project will be destined for an archive, then I imagine an adapted version of the archive's standard release form could be designed for your project. 

Michelle Winslow, Cynthia Brown, and I would be interested to know your thoughts on our tips and also on the "joint statement of intent."

With best wishes,

Mary Stewart
Curator, Oral History
Deputy Director, National Life Stories
British Library